Churches bring strong voice for justice in Zimbabwe
“Ecumenical solidarity will be the key for Zimbabwe as we move into this latest phase – a kairos moment – when Zimbabwe will need the support of the whole ecumenical movement.” These are the words of the Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata, the recently appointed General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
Zimbabwe is in the clutches of yet another economic and political crisis, its worst for several years, certainly since the Zimbabwe dollar was abandoned in favour of a multi-currency system which has become dominated by the the US dollar since April 2009.
Recently, there have been numerous demonstrations, even, at times, violence, with people refusing to go to work in protest.
While there is general sense of dissatisfaction, the latest trigger for this fresh crisis is the imminent issuance of the bond note by the Zimbabwean government.
Unable to print and control the supply of the US dollar, the government intends to issue the bond note as a way of underwriting the dollar.
There has been a steady flow of the US dollar out of the country and so ordinary citizens may receive their pay partly in dollars and partly in this new note.
Given the government’s handling of recent economic crises, people are concerned that the bond note may end up being as useless as the old Zimbabwe dollar.
TERROR IN EUROPE
The recent terrorist onslaught in France and Germany created a sense, both in those countries and beyond their borders, of fear and questioning. The fact of radicalisation is borne out in its fruits of ruthless cruelty. Those individuals who carry out such attacks have lost the basic human values that underpin human rights and all civilised behaviour. As French President François Hollande said in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray following the brutal knifing to death there of the elderly Fr Jacques Hamel while officiating at Mass, along with hostage taking, the country’s very democracy is being targeted.
Reporting for Religion News Service, the agency’s correspondent, Tom Heneghan, wrote from Paris that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had warned that the jihadists wanted to “set the French against each other, attacking a religion to provoke a war of religions” and also pointed out that the Islamic State group’s French- language magazine, Dar al Islam, had indicated that strategy early last year, encouraging French Muslims to stage attacks in any way possible to provoke an anti- Muslim backlash. Mr Heneghan also reported that an attack on a church had been expected at least since April 2015, when police found evidence that a failed terrorist had staked out three churches in the Paris area.
A very concise yet comprehensive analysis of the reasons why France in particular draws the wrath of extreme Islamists was set out in The Irish Independent (27th July) by Elaine Ganley, the Paris- based correspondent for The Associated Press, who pointed to a combination of the country’s colonial history not only in North Africa but also, in particular, in Syria itself (French Mandate, 1920-1946), with Arabic and French being the common languages of Raqqa, making it a centre of French recruitment for Islamic State. Then again, Ms Ganley referred to the emphasis on secularism in modern France. She wrote: “France’s exceptional public focus on promoting integration on
to a secular society has fueled chronic tension with its Muslim minority, exemplified by a 2010 ban on wearing face-covering veils and a 2004 ban on Islamic headscarves in the classroom.”
In an article in this week’s Gazette (page 9), Mohammed Dajani Daoudi, Weston Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and founder of the Wasatia Movement of Moderate Islam, comments that the response to terrorism “must be to resist the animosity trap”. At the immediate and practical level, the Christian response to terror attacks is to comfort the bereaved and injured with the glad news of the resurrection of Christ and of the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, to support the police and security forces in their work of protecting the community, and to encourage anyone with information that could help apprehend perpetrators to pass it to the authorities.
The question of forgiveness is, of course, a fundamental part of the distinctly spiritual response and, as we know well from the Church’s long reflection on the subject, confession and forgiveness are two sides of the process of reconciliation. In an interdependent way, they form the dynamic that leads to truly reconciled relationships. An expression of forgiveness on its own may help individuals to come to terms with a terrible wrong committed against them but, divorced from confession, and reparation if at all possible, it does not make for actual reconciliation because the perpetrator’s inward disposition remains unaltered: he or she remains proud of the wrongdoing.
In the circumstances, the Archbishop of Dublin has issued a call to prayer for love to prevail among people of all outlooks and has stressed the urgency of interfaith understanding and respect (report, page 12). His were indeed both wise and calming words in a situation of very considerable danger to the European public. (Rethinking Church, page 6)
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- Comment – Our response to terror must be reconciliation By Mohammed Dajani Daoudi – Weston Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and founder of the Wasatia Movement of Moderate Islam
Letters to the Editor
YOUR 22nd JULY editorial welcomes the appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister of the UK and continues by saying that she has so easily been able to embrace the will of the people as expressed in the referendum as she came across as a “reluctant remainer”.
As a result, Mrs May will ensure that the will of the people will be fulfilled.
It is important to realise, however, that only 52% of those who voted actually voted to leave the EU. Yet, the consequences for all of us, whether we voted to leave or not, are very serious.
One very serious result is that all UK citizens will, once Article 50 has been triggered, lose their European citizenship. This means, obviously, that we will no longer vote in elections for the European Parliament, as there will be no UK candidates.
It will also have consequences of a different nature. For 23 years I lived and worked in Ireland as a priest in the Church of Ireland. At least once a year I would go with my Irish colleagues, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, to a congress in Rome. They would travel as Irish citizens with their Irish passports, while I, as a British citizen, would travel with my British passport.
When we reached Rome, however, we all went through passport control, no longer as British and Irish, but as Europeans.
Once the UK has withdrawn from the EU, this would no longer be possible for me, were I still living in Ireland.
I would have to go through the entrance marked ‘Others’.
Has anyone the right to deprive someone else of their citizenship against their will, for this is what is happening to the 48% of us who voted to remain?
Michael Nuttall (The Ven.) Scarborough North Yorkshire
Catholic/ Roman Catholic
I AGREE totally with Peter Fitzgerald (Letter, 22nd July). From my earliest years in Co. Wicklow, we were taught always to call those owing allegiance to the Roman Pontiff, Roman Catholics.
Therefore to use the term ‘Catholic’ when we mean ‘Roman Catholic’ is really an invitation to others to refer to us as ‘Non-Catholic’.
For example, when Mass is celebrated before a mixed congregation, as at a funeral, an invitation is usually extended to ‘Non-Catholics’ to come forward and receive a blessing instead of receiving the sacrament.
Therefore, those who accept the invitation are unwittingly assenting, in an outward and visible way, to the Roman Catholic view that they are ‘Non- Catholics’ with a defective Eucharist which might
This is a very serious matter and deserves to be taken up by our Bishops or the Standing Committee.
Better for Rome not to extend such an invitation or for so-called ‘Non-Catholics’ not to accept it.
Victor Griffin (The Very Revd)
Cavan and Monaghan personal papers
I AM hoping that good readers of the Gazette might be able to assist me in some research on the Protestant community in Counties Cavan and Monaghan during the Irish Revolution.
I am looking for personal documents, such as diaries or letters, that record the thoughts and experiences of Protestant ancestors during the years 1916-23.
These types of documents are invaluable in understanding the experiences of this often ignored community, and any that can be provided represent the opportunity to have one’s own family leave a giant imprint on our local history.
If any readers have such papers and would be good enough to share them with
me I would be very much in their debt.
I would equally be interested in interviewing anybody who can remember stories told to them by their parents or grandparents about the period and who is happy to talk to me.
This research would result in the production of a doctoral thesis and all contributors will be credited or left anonymous as they request.
Equally, all information included in the final research will be subject to the approval of the contributor.
I can be contacted by email at email@example.com or called at 087-218 4481. Daniel Purcell
Trinity College Dublin
PARADISE GARDENS: SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION AND EARTHLY EXPRESSION
Author: Toby Musgrave Publisher: Frances Lincoln; pp.224
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